NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. was charged on Thursday with groping a woman at a Manhattan bar last weekend, New York City police said.
The “Jerry Maguire” actor faces one misdemeanour account of forcible touching in an incident on Sunday when an unidentified woman said Gooding touched her breasts.
Gooding, who denies the accusation, emerged in handcuffs after being charged at a New York police facility. He did not speak to reporters.
He was the latest Hollywood figure to be swept up in a sexual misconduct scandal that has roiled the entertainment industry in the last two years.
Gooding’s attorney, Mark J. Heller, said he was “completely confident that (Gooding) will be totally exonerated.” He told reporters that Gooding will enter a not guilty plea at an initial court appearance.
“There is not a scintilla of criminal culpability that can be attributed to Cuba Gooding Jr.,” Heller told reporters.
Heller said he was “shocked and horrified” that the case was being prosecuted after he presented police with security video from the bar that the attorney said showed no criminal behaviour by Gooding.
Gooding, 51, won a supporting actor Oscar in 1997 for “Jerry Maguire” and had roles in “A Few Good Men,” “The Butler” and the television miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
The actor, who is divorced, is one of dozens of men in politics, entertainment, sports and the business world who have been accused of sexual misconduct since allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein triggered the #MeToo movement.
Weinstein is to stand trial in New York later this year on charges of rape and forced oral sex involving two women. He has denied any non-consensual sex.
Former “House of Cards” actor Kevin Spacey in January pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man at a Massachusetts bar two years ago, while singer R. Kelly was charged in Chicago with sexually assaulting three teens and a woman.
Heller accused the woman who lodged the complaint against Gooding last weekend of seeking “simply to get their 15 minutes of fame” and said he hoped she would herself be prosecuted once Gooding’s case is resolved.
New York media reported on Thursday that another woman had come forward this week alleging inappropriate touching by Gooding in 2008.
Heller said Gooding had “no knowledge” of the alleged 2008 incident, which falls outside the statute of limitations for any potential charges.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Leslie Adler, Susan Thomas and Richard Chang